Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden says he'll "work like hell" for Bernie if he wins the nomination

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Joe Biden continued to argue on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that the Democratic Party would have a harder time defeating President Trump if it nominates Bernie Sanders, who labels himself a democratic socialist, but stated that he would "work like hell" for the Vermont senator if he wins.

Why it matters: The divide between the moderate and progressive wing of the party has reignited debate over whether voters from each side would ultimately back the nominee against Trump.

The exchange:

BIDEN: "Bernie calls himself a democratic socialist. ... Are you going to win with the label? Are you going to help somebody in Florida win, with the label democratic socialist? Because it's going to go all the way down the line. That's what's going to happen. Are you going to win in North Carolina? Going to win in Pennsylvania? Are you going to win in those states and the Midwest? I didn't put the label on Bernie. Bernie calls himself a democratic socialist.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: "So you think, flat out, Democrats can't defeat Trump if they have to defend socialism?"
BIDEN: "I think it's going to be incredibly more difficult. Look, if I don't get the nomination and Bernie gets it, I'm going to work like hell for him. But I tell you what, it's a bigger uphill climb running as a senator or a congressperson or as a governor on a ticket that calls itself the democratic socialist ticket."

The big picture: Trump has already made clear that his campaign message for 2020 will center on defeating socialism, regardless of whether the nominee is Sanders or one of the more moderate Democratic candidates.

  • At his third State of the Union address last week, Trump declared that the United States will "never be a socialist country."
  • "Socialism destroys nations," he said. "But always remember, freedom unifies the soul."

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Sanders defends socialism: "We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now"

Sanders in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders again defended on Wednesday's debate stage his embrace of Democratic socialism.

What he's saying: "Let's talk about Democratic socialism — not communism, Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot. Let's talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark, where Pete correctly pointed out, they have a much higher quality of life in many respects than we do."

Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Jim Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

Biden: Sanders and Buttigieg won't win the long game in 2020

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden opened the Democratic debate on Friday night by reiterating that while Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out on top in the Iowa caucus, they will face problems down the 2020 road.

Thought bubble... Per Axios' Alayna Treene: Biden is playing straight to voters biggest concern with his answer to the first question: Which candidate can best take on Trump on the debate stage and beat him in the general election? Biden says Trump will label Sanders as a socialist, and given the fact that he is one, Republicans will eat him alive